The Journey From Bush To Cup
The first flush is picked by hand at dawn, with just the top two leaves and the bud taken from every branch of the Camellia sinensis bush. The leaves are then laid onto bamboo or straw mats to allow gentle withering.
A warm dry area is necessary for the leaves to become limp and pliable. The atmospheric conditions affect the amount of time required for the leaves to be withered.
Rolling is a crucial stage in processing black tea. Traditionally by hand (a circular movement between the palms), the more intense the rolling the stronger the resulting flavour. The leaves should disentegrate in your hands and curl easily into balls as their cell structures become broken and bruised with rolling.
The next step is oxidisation. This involves spreading the rolled leaves on a flat surface and keeping them at a controlled temperature. As the natural liquids in the cells interact, the colour changes from green to brown. Green tea varies in that the oxidisation is replaced by steaming, retaining the natural green colour.
The final stage is to dry the leaves to 2% moisture. For small quantities of tea. a warming oven is ideal. Once the leaves have reduced to a darkend crisp crunchy state, they are ready for drinking. The 'bush to cup' process at Tregothnan takes just 36 hours. All processes are entirely chemical free and have been sustainable for over 4000 years.